When I found out that Mary Lydon Simonsen was writing a Pride and Prejudice inspired book that took place in Italy I was so excited! Ever since I was able to travel to Italy two years ago I’ve loved it more and more and I can’t wait to go back. Now, reading about the combination of my two favorite literary characters with Florence was enough to make me want to go out and buy the book ASAP, and that’s exactly what I did once it came out! So, without further ado, let’s travel to Italy.
We all remember Mr. Darcy’s failed proposal to Elizabeth Bennet at the Hunsford Parsonage. When They Fall in Love picks up several years later, with much occurring in the interim, including Darcy marrying another woman, fathering a child, and becoming a widower. Now, he plans to live in a villa in the hills above Florence, Italy with his daughter, who is now six. He invites his friend Charles Bingley and his wife Jane, who now have a daughter, as well as Elizabeth, who acts as the governess for her niece. Although much has happened in the intervening years after Darcy’s failed proposal to Elizabeth, she is unsure if his love for her has withstood this test of time. Her own feelings towards him have grown tremendously, but she is apprehensive as to whether or not he reciprocates these feelings. What will become of their meeting against the beautiful backdrop of Italy?
It should come as no surprise to anyone that I fell in love with this book. Not only was it written by Simonsen (who is one of my favorite Austen fan fiction authors) but it takes place in one of my favorite places on Earth – Italy. Simonsen utilizes beautiful and illustrious language to describe the art, sights, and landscape of the country, and makes the reader feel as if he/she is right alongside Darcy and Elizabeth as they tour Florence. Simonsen writes, “With evening upon them, the rays of a setting sun were dancing on the roof of the Duomo, and Elizabeth had never seen anything so beautiful – not London – not Paris – but Firenze, the City of Flowers.” Doesn’t that make you feel like you’re there? I’ve included some pictures of my own trip, especially those landmarks that are depicted in the story, to hopefully give you a better idea of the scenery. I do have one small complaint, however, and it is regarding the point of view. For the vast majority of the work we are treated to Elizabeth’s perspective, so the short portions in which the point of view switches over to Darcy seemed a bit odd and seemed to disrupt the flow slightly. Other than that, however, this book was an amazing journey into yet another fun and exciting take on Darcy and Elizabeth’s love story. I heartily recommend it to all JAFF fans, of course, but I also tack on the additional recommendation to the travel lovers out there. If you can’t physically make it to Italy this is a fantastic alternative, and I know you’ll enjoy every minute.
4 out of 5 Stars
When They Fall in Love: Darcy and Elizabeth in Italy, by Mary Lydon Simonsen
Quail Creek Publishing, LLC (2013)
Trade paperback (280) pages
Cover image courtesy of Quail Creek Publishing © 2013; text Kimberly Denny Ryder © 2013, Austenprose